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Wales-England Cross-border Healthcare

Volume 649: debated on Monday 12 November 2018

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Lord O'Shaughnessy) has made the following written statement:

Whilst delivery of healthcare across the border between England and Wales is collaborative and high-quality, the Government are aware of the problems that a significant number of patients living along the Welsh-English border have faced for a number of years in accessing healthcare in accordance with their rights under the NHS constitution. We are pleased that a new statement of values and principles, co-produced by NHS England, the Welsh Government and the local system is now ready for publication.

The new statement will replace the existing cross-border protocol, which was established in 2005, revised in 2013 and agreed between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Welsh Government with input from the system. This protocol outlined the process for residents living along the Welsh-English border in accessing healthcare and which bodies were legally and financially responsible for these patients. Soon after the publication it was realised that the protocol did not comply with English law in that it did not safeguard the constitutional rights of English residents living along the border and registered with Welsh GPs—those residents were unable to exercise their rights to English standards in terms of waiting times for treatment and choice of secondary care provider. Since then, extensive work has been conducted on both sides of the border to ensure this is possible.

NHS England and the Welsh Government, working with clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and local health boards (LHBs), have developed the new statement to replace the existing protocol and to address the issues that have arisen from it. The new statement allows patients to exercise their rights under the NHS constitution by being referred to a provider under contract with NHS England or electing to receive treatment in Wales, waiving those rights and accepting Welsh standards.

The Government are pleased that the process for producing the new statement has been collaborative across the border and has involved affected stakeholders to ensure it is acceptable and appropriate. We note the diligence by which constituency MPs, especially my right hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper), have sought a solution and also commend the work by Action4ourCare to reach a way forward. We hope this statement of values and principles provides a long-term resolution.

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